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If you have any queries you can also contact the Commision's Communications unit.

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Past talks

Annabel Crabb
RightsTalk: 2015 Australians of the Year, Inspiring change in human rights
Annabel Crabb MC, Rosie Batty, Jackie French, Drisana Levitzke-Gray and Juliette Wright. With Gillian Triggs and Clover Moore
Monday 13 July 2015

This year for the first time ever all four Australians of the Year are women. Led by Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, each of these impressive Australians has an inspiring story to tell and is passionate about the human rights issues that drive them.

Australians of the Year: Rosie Batty, Jackie French, Drisana Levitzke and Juliette Wright

  • Rosie Batty, family violence campaigner Australian of the Year (pictured top left)
  • Jackie French, author Senior Australian of the Year (pictured top right)
  • Drisana Levitzke-Gray, advocate for the deaf community Young Australian of the Year (pictured bottom left)
  • Juliette Wright, social entrepreneur Australia’s Local Hero (pictured bottom right)

The Australian Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Australian of the Year Awards, City of Sydney and ABC News 24 present this one off special event at Sydney Town Hall.

ABC journalist and presenter Annabel Crabb will be leading the discussion, broadcast live on ABC News 24.  Please send in questions you would like Annabel to ask to  Annabel will ask some of the best questions on the night.

RightsTalk events are free and open to the general public, however spaces are limited.  Please register at the link below:

Also featuring

Clover Moore
Clover Moore

Gillian Triggs

Event sponsors

Event partners: National Australia Day Committee, City of Sydney and ABC News 24


The venue is wheelchair accessible.

Nick Bryant
RightsTalk: Australia - punching above or below its weight?
Nick Bryant
Monday 4 May 2015

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane will host a discussion with BBC correspondent and author Nick Bryant. In his recent book, The Rise and Fall of Australia, Bryant – formerly the BBC’s Sydney correspondent and currently the BBC’s correspondent in New York – offers an outsider's take on the great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished. Have things changed? And how does Australia fare on the global diplomatic stage?

Nick Bryant is the BBC’s New York and UN correspondent. Before that he had postings in Washington, South Asia and Australia. He has also written for The Economist, The Independent, The Monthly and The Australian Literary Review. He studied history at Cambridge and completed a PhD in American politics at Oxford. He is the author of three books, including a history of John F. Kennedy’s response to the struggle for black equality and, most recently, The Rise and Fall of Australia.

The venue is wheelchair accessible. If you have any requirements that will assist in your full participation at this event please contact us at

Jon Lawrence
RightsTalk: The Digital Rights Agenda with Jon Lawrence
Hosted by Tim Wilson Human Rights Commissioner
Tuesday 24 March 2015

Join Executive Officer of Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc, Jon Lawrence to discuss the hot topics and current issues of the digital rights movement in 2015.

In this session Jon will cover:

  • protecting freedom of expression
  • achieving meaningful privacy
  • resisting mass surveillance
  • promoting copyright reform
  • realising equality of access (bridging the digital divide)
  • data retention
  • copyright enforcement
  • fair use
  • net neutrality

Jon Lawrence has 20 years of experience in the IT/Internet industries, primarily in product and relationship development roles. He has worked in Australia, the UK, Denmark and the US for a wide range of commercial organisations, from four person start-ups to large-scale media companies.

He has been an interested observer of the international internet governance field since 1999 and has been an active advocate for digital rights since 2011. His areas of policy interest include freedom of speech, privacy, copyright reform, bridging the digital divide and resisting unnecessary mass surveillance.

Jon completed a Master of International Relations at the University of Melbourne in 2011 and is also a non-Executive Director of the Internet Society of Australia.

Paula Gerber
RightsTalk: Rights in a Crowded Classroom
Moderator: Associate Professor Paula Gerber, Deputy Director Castan Centre for Human Rights, Monash University
Wednesday 11 March 2015

Location: Monash Conference Centre, Level 7, 30 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

With the national curriculum once again in focus, it’s timely to reflect on the place of human rights in education. Is it the role of schools to teach issues like race relations and disability rights? If so, how? And how can schools engage with human rights and diversity beyond the curriculum?

Join our panellists:

Kate Jenkins
Kate Jenkins
Libby Tudball
Libby Tudball
Tim Soutphommasane
Tim Soutphommasane
Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson
  • Kate Jenkins, Commissioner, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights
  • Dr. Libby Tudball, Director Undergraduate Programs, Faculty of Education, Monash University
  • Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Chris Thompson, Director, Priority Cohorts Branch, Department of Education and Training

Moderator: Associate Professor Paula Gerber, Deputy Director Castan Centre for Human Rights, Monash University

The Commission will also be launching its range of new schools education resources on disability, race relations and human rights for maths, geography, history and health/physical education at this event.

The venue is wheelchair accessible. If you have any requirements that will assist in your full participation please contact

Cost: RightsTalk is free and open to the general public, however spaces are limited. Please register at

Monash University - Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

George Newhouse
Rights Talk: CPCF v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection – When statutory interpretation trumps international legal norms
George Newhouse
Tuesday 3 March 2015

In this session, Shine Lawyers, Special Counsel, George Newhouse will discuss the unanswered questions arising from the High Court decision in the recent case of 157 Tamils intercepted and detained by Australian Border Protection on the high seas

The recent High Court decision of CPCF v Minister of Immigration and Border Protection upheld the legality of the Government’s decision to hold 157 Tamil asylum seekers on a Customs vessel for almost a month and take them on a fruitless voyage to India. It also reaffirmed the principle that Australian courts are bound to apply Australian Statute law even if that law violates a rule of international law.

Commentators often analyse a High Court decision like a football game, with winners and losers, CPCF was much more nuanced than that. The case gives slender hope to asylum seekers who fear refoulement (ie being returned to harm or persecution) because the High Court found that Australian law requires that a maritime officer cannot "place" or "keep" a person in a particular place unless he or she is satisfied on reasonable grounds that it is "safe for the person to be in that place". Many of the judges observed that the obligation to keep “safe” would encompass considerations of refoulement.

As a result of CPCF’s High Court Challenge, the Australian Government hurriedly pushed through a raft of amendments to the Migration Act and to the Maritime Powers Act to allow much greater flexibility and discretion in removing asylum seekers from the high seas to other places.

The amendments reduced the ability of the courts to review decisions at sea and redefined the Government’s obligations under the Refugee Convention by limiting its operation; but failed to remove the one protection that the High Court found is still effective, and which stops the Australian Government from leaving a person in a place where they would be at risk of physical harm.

George Newhouse is an Australian human rights lawyer and the former Mayor of Waverley. Newhouse is a practicing solicitor and leads Shine Lawyers’ Social Justice team.

He is well known for his work with the disadvantaged, in particular for refugees, detainees, people with mental illness and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. He established the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce in 2008 to promote Indigenous entrepreneurship and he is a member of the Board of the Stolen Generations Testimony Foundation.

In August 2009 Newhouse travelled to PNG to establish the Adrian Lam Foundation to assist youth in PNG through education and sport. He also serves as company secretary for the McKell Institute, a progressive public policy institute dedicated to developing practical policy ideas and contributing to public debate.